UWOL # 16- Lone Star Safari- Mike Sims at DVinfo.net

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Old May 26th, 2010, 08:46 AM   #1
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UWOL # 16- Lone Star Safari- Mike Sims

In the opening statement I use the word “millions”. I have come to realize that this is not correct. For one species alone, feral swine, the number in our area is well over 20 million. The statement is not an exaggeration but, in fact, a gross under estimate. I should have said “many millions”. Ignoring the ecological insanity of introducing species (for the purpose of this three minute video only!), people do this for a variety of reasons. The swine were released by early settlers for an assured food supply. Many ranchers keep “exotics” for hunters to shoot for “trophies”. Some, with enough land and money to do so, just enjoy keeping unusual pets. In the tradition of Texas “dude ranches” we have seen the rise of tourist “safari ranches” in recent years. [ My own home sits on the site of a former dude ranch that was popular with the Hollywood crowd in the 1920’s and 30’s. By the way, if you search those coordinates you’ll find my front yard and discover that I am the only one around here that likes planting lots of trees- my neighbors hate it.] I recorded several other species, such as giraffe, that didn’t make it in the final cut. I missed the elephants. Other species to be found include African lion, tiger, chimpanzee, baboons…

I shot this as my first footage with a new camera I originally didn’t even intend to buy. I went to my local camera store to buy a $2 camera part (Yes, they exist!). On the counter was a new Canon T2i. It was on sale for $150 off MSRP plus I had $40 store credit. It came home with me. I had to overnight a Class 6 card, and two days later I was shooting a UWOL Challenge with it! I’m not using an intermediate codec yet and I obviously still have much to learn. I had thought of asking Marj Atkins to record the voice-over, but I knew she would say yes and since she was playing this round (and therefore had limited time) and has limited internet bandwidth, it wouldn’t have been fair to her. It would, however, have made a great improvement. My own VO is admittedly minimalist.

About the title- Texas is known as the Lone Star state.

Here is a link to a larger version on my website (42Mb):
http://www.hotspot-online.net/Video/...fari-large.mp4

All input is enthusiastically welcomed. Thank-you!

Last edited by Mike Sims; May 26th, 2010 at 10:44 AM. Reason: misspelling
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Old May 26th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #2
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Mike:

Nice job with the new T2i. These DSLRs really have a place in our nature shooting, in my opinion. An the T2i can turn a 400m into about a 640mm, and more if you put a good doubler on it. I intend to do some extensive experimenting at that this point to see how much reach I can get with my new T2i

As far as the film goes, you may be facing what I face with the camera, you get so many good shots, and you want to use them all. But from a story telling point of view, I wonder if some of animals had to much footage shown.

I did like the concept of the local safari-- something I take advantage of as much as possible at the local bird preserve.


By the way, on a technical note, when I left BestBuy with mine, I actually grabbed two 8 gig cards (I think class 4) that were on sale for $20 apiece. I figured I would try one, and if it didn't work, bring tehm both back. I haven't had a hickup on any of the video I have tried to take. As with the 5D, I am wondering if the Class 6 recommendation is pointed more toward rapid fire high resolution stills, which I never avail myself of.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 03:35 PM   #3
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Mike,
I'm impressed what you can do with the camera after only 2 days.

Interesting to see all those (to me) exotic animals. But the story about tourist ranches, and turists hunting just for the trophies, that's sad.

You made me feel I was there with you.
Thank you!
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Old May 26th, 2010, 03:57 PM   #4
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Mike,

I was wondering how far you were going to get with A-Z - can he have an animal for every letter, I thought? And you almost did! Heh heh...

Like me, you faced the challenge of a new camera. Nothing like an UWOL to test them out. I didn't make the DSLR leap though. The T2i certainly gives you some nice images.

Was the audio live, or was it dubbed, foley style? For some reason I have a picture in my head of you munching Rice Krispies and making horse noises!

Nothing wrong with your voiceover, you have an excellent voice for that. That Texan accent is a mighty fine one for a video like this. I think if you used Marj for a Lone Star State shoot it would just confuse me!

Well done!
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Old May 26th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #5
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Chris- Thanks for the encouragement. I hope youíll report on the results of your telephoto experiments in the new T2i forum here. I donít yet have a LCD shade or finder and I had trouble judging proper exposure with different angles to the sun. For me it wasnít a matter of too many good shots but rather a problem with too many poor exposures and needing to use as much as possible of the ones that werenít as bad. Thanks for the tip on the class 4 cards. I couldnít find any class 6 locally but class 4 cards are easy to find and Iíll give them a try.


Trond- Thanks for your kind words. I can just about justify some hunting for management purposes since we have destroyed all the natural predators. The sad thing is that trophy hunting has become an industry. The industry in Texas robs the countries of origin of much needed income for wildlife conservation. The thing that really bothers me are these ďcannedď hunts. Some idiot gets a baby animal as a pet- for example a tiger cub. They keep it until it gets too big or expensive to keep or they are just bored with it. They then sell it on to some middleman who puts it in a 100 foot square pen so some other idiot can shoot it and have it stuffed. Thatís not just sad, thatís disgusting.

Mike- If I had gone a little further a field I could have probably got all the letters. None of the audio was live and ummm- Iím busted! Actually it was apples and celery but I should have added some Rice Krispies for variety. The licking sounds were courtesy of my dog Sirius. Iím not talented enough to make horse sounds but a clientís horse served as stand in (he didnít get a credit though- that was in his contract). The idea of asking Marj was precisely because she has the least Texan sounding accent I could think of. I would have then revealed that everything was shot in Texas in a surprise ending. It was just a thoughtÖ
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Old May 26th, 2010, 06:01 PM   #6
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Mike, I read the comments before I watched this, and I was laughing throughout at the vision of you munching Rice Krispies for the sound effects. Very upbeat and cool film to watch, nice colors and focusing. A lot of interesting animals. I have to show this to my kids, they will really like it.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 09:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for the kind words Bill. I hope the kids enjoy it. When I first started trying to record Foley I recorded to the camera with an external microphone (I now record direct to disc). For a really funny vision you should see the video portion of some of those early attempts to munch and crunch on cue!

Last edited by Mike Sims; May 26th, 2010 at 10:00 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 27th, 2010, 09:23 AM   #8
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Good Morning,

And think, I spent a fortune to spend a month in africa and did not see all the cool animals you had right at home in texas!!!!! And you also got better footage!!


This was a wonderfully nice journey throught he animal kingdom of the other side of the world. I know Black Bucks are found (or were) in India, so what a cool spread of animals.
I am always amazed at how Zebras are so camoflauged! You captured that beautifully as you had the fore animal defined and then when they start moving the ones in the back left which were all but invisible come to life!! That is a difficult task to accomplish!!!

I think your voice over was just fine, clear and easy to understand. I am sure it sounded even better before compression too.

I watched twice and it wasn't until the second view I even noticed you did have ambient music in the background, which means you had me captivated.

Nice job.

curiously, if I recall correctly (and that is questionable) the t2i only shoots 20fps in 1080, so did you shoot his in 720?

thanks for taking the time and sharing!!!
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Old May 27th, 2010, 11:02 AM   #9
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Dale- As of last year I understand there are almost five times more blackbucks roaming around loose in Texas than remain in their native range in India (and if India didnít have the Bishnois they probably wouldnít have any left!). Thanks for the reassurance about the VO. As you know Iím still self conscious about that. I think you are remembering the specs of the T1i. Like the 7D, the T2i records 30fps in 1080 and 60fps in 720. This was all recorded at 30fps1080. Ryan used his 7D at 60fps720 very effectively to produce slow motion of the owl. I havenít tried that yet, but I will. Speaking of slow motion- I just got a Sony HDR HC9 to use in one of my infrared camera traps (home built using circuit boards from PixController). It has that smooth slow motion feature. Since youíve been getting such good results with your FX 1000, Iíve decided to experiment with that feature this week. Iíll let you know how it works out for me.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #10
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Gosh, I knew that there are a lot of exotic animals and plants released in the wrong parts of the world (including the American eastern grey squirrel here in Britain), but I had no idea there was such a huge problem in Texas.You did a good job of showing it.
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Old May 28th, 2010, 06:13 PM   #11
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Thanks Annie. I tried to ignore the problems for the purpose of this video, but you are correct. The problems are large. Because of the feral swine alone we have lost most of our ground nesting birds and populations of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and some native plants are in serious decline. Ironically, populations of eastern grey squirrel are suffering in east Texas because the vegetation changes we are causing favor the fox squirrel.

Last edited by Mike Sims; May 28th, 2010 at 06:14 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 29th, 2010, 03:30 AM   #12
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Mike, when we visited New Zealand a few years ago, we were amazed at the number of "British" or European species of plant and animal there, taken out by the early settlers. In particular, skylarks and song thrushes - birds becoming rare in Britain - were thriving. If they become too scarce in Britain, we know where to go to replenish stocks. Likewise, I'm sure we can supply Texas with grey squirrels if you need them <Grin>. European mammals such as hedgehogs and stoats have had horrendous effects on the ground nesting native birds out there too.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 10:18 AM   #13
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Hi Mike – apologies – I was part way through watching the entries and doing my comments when I hit a totally unexpected snag. I have only been able to get back here today.

I don’t usually read the posts for the individual entries until I have downloaded the film and made my own comments so I was totally unaware of everything that was being said here until today – all very interesting. Re the narrration – I would have gladly helped out - it seems you had an interesting concept although one that might have proved pretty confusing – something like Chris B’s film – when I saw Chris S I went back to check if I had misread the name!

This journey is quite enlightening – a safari in Texas – of all things. Who would have thought one could find so many familiar animals so far from home? You have some nice shots in there. Now I could have done with some of those horned beasties in my long form movie!! :)

Just one observation: I did a double take when viewing your zebra footage because I have never heard a zebra make a sound like that. My first reaction was – either these Zebras are more confused than you realize and have learned to whinny like a horse or you took a chance on it. (A Zebra has a distinct and unique ‘barking’ call that is usually heard when they are agitated in some way. To me it is one of the most beautiful sounds of the African plains. Zebras do snort lightly at times; most of the time they are mute.)

As regards your info on the owls in Ryan’s post – we had a superb example of this habituation in Kruger last year. A pair of African Scops Owls that are normally exceptionally difficult to find during the day due to their cryptic camouflage, had taken to roosting in a couple of trees in the hectic parking lot at Satara rest camp. One of the owls spent the day in a Euphorbia one meter off the ground! They drew a lot of attention especially from photographers who grabbed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Last edited by Marj Atkins; June 1st, 2010 at 01:32 AM. Reason: error
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Old May 31st, 2010, 07:51 PM   #14
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Thanks Marj. I wondered if you might point that out. The zebra around here that I have heard seem to make a single snort that whistles through their nose. I havenít recorded it and wasnít sure people would recognize it anyway. Since I started trying this complete audio replacement stuff I have been listening critically to a lot of major productions. I think up to half of what we hear may be contextually inappropriate. There often seems to be two diametrically opposing goals- one to be true to the story and another to be biologically accurate. Perhaps this time I have crossed the line? (Iíd love to hear feedback on that!) I thought you might also point out that the zebra shown were actually from two different species!
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Old June 1st, 2010, 01:56 AM   #15
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Hi Mike
I think sound is a very important aspect of a film and adding sounds that are missing can certainly enhance the experience, but as you say one has to be careful. I have not ventured down this road but I can see its advantages especially if the appropriate sound is laid on top of good ambient sound. The pros and cons round this topic have been covered quite a lot in the Under water Over land forum on DVinfo.

Yes I did notice that there were two different species of Zebra but the shot of the one with the grid-iron pattern on its back was too close for me to see what species it was. I noticed that it did not have a reddish muzzle or dewlap so I decided it wasn't a Mountain Zebra - it looked young to me. The others have shadow stripes on the rump and look like our Burchell's Zebra.
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